Peter Kurz, Source: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability

The city of Mannheim is convinced that sustainability asks for a comprehensive transformation process

The city of Mannheim is convinced that sustainability asks for a comprehensive transformation process

Interview with Peter Kurz, Mayor of Mannheim, Germany

Dr. Peter Kurz has been the Mayor of the City of Mannheim since 2007. In this interview, he explains the transformation of Mannheim into a more sustainable city that started 12 years ago.

As one of the main organisers of the 9th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns – “Mannheim2020” together with ICLEI Europe, he invites all interested parties to be part of the event taking place online from Wednesday, 30 September to Friday, 2 October.

Mr Kurz, would you tell us how has Mannheim changed in the last ten years to become a more sustainable and liveable city?

We started a change-process nearly 12 years ago to foster cross-sectoral thinking and impact-driven planning in Mannheim’s administration and to boost participation. By expanding our international work, we adopted global agendas and worked on their localisation.

Hence, we developed a mission statement “Mannheim 2030” in a participatory process of 18 months to reflect and implement the global 2030 agenda comprehensively. Seven goals and seven fields of action form a coherent and sustainable strategy for the city. 

We invited different stakeholders to describe and realise action plans based on the mission statement, because realising the SDGs demands a fundamental change of our economy and lifestyle, we need to involve all stakeholders and citizens.

What are the plans for the upcoming decade, given the climate emergency we are in?

In 2019 we set up an urgency plan to fight climate change. We try to accelerate the progress of the long-term sector strategies regarding mobility, energy, real estate, city green, climate change adaption, administration. Within the next 12 years, we will switch our mainly coal-based district heating system to renewables, and we will reach more districts.

Right now, 70% of the buildings are connected to the grid. Until 2027, we will expand our tram system and renew our fleet. Many projects are improving our biking infrastructure.

Incentives and campaigns are promoting biking as a favred transport mode; this is especially important in a city in which the car was invented by Carl Benz 1886. Public green will be enlarged by a square kilometre within the next three years.

How is the City involving citizens in the co-creation of this process, especially the young generation?

The involvement of citizens is multi-faceted. The creation of the mission statement was designed as a participatory process itself with hundreds of people and thousands of proposals coming from our citizens.

Many projects are co-creation projects by definition. Our climate agency addresses mainly private households, and creates campaigns and actions based on participation of schools, employees, members of associations, etc.

Educational projects regarding global responsible consumption are key to gain support for the transformation process.

Why did Mannheim decide to host the 9th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns?

The city of Mannheim is convinced that sustainability asks for a comprehensive transformation process, which will not be successful if two fundamental findings are not accepted:

  1. Global agendas will not take effect without involvement on the local level. All the planetary challenges are concentrated in cities and will have to be dealt within them. However, in many countries cities lack the means and competences to adequately respond to these realities. They are reduced to be local governments in a national system. They lack the means to govern urban complexities. They are caught in uncontrolled processes of global markets and competition and national regulations. And above all, national governments and international governance do not give a place to the urban world. Global negotiations and treaties remain in the hands of national leaders. Transformation in terms of sustainability also entails the transformation of governance and devolution of power.
  2. The SDGs are interdependent and SDG 11 is as a cross-cutting goal central in realising the SDGs.

The 9th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns is a chance to promote these convictions and to go a step further in addressing the European level and the European nations to support and directly involve the cities and towns.

The conference will showcase the competence and knowledge of ICLEI’s members. It will be an inspirational event and will strengthen the movement towards a sustainable world.



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